All Entries For school

Happier Meals: Cool School Lunch Strategies


As summer starts winding down and back-to-school shopping begins, lunch boxes and supplies might be on your list. What can you do to help ensure that your kids eat the healthy food you pack instead of trading it for chips and cookies--or even throwing it away? There are lots of cool accessories to make lunchtime more exciting. Looking for ideas to turn boring carrot sticks into a food they won’t want to turn down? Here are some of our picks to brighten up lunch and make healthy eating fun! 
Posted 8/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 5 comments   23,026 views
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How to Help Children Deal When Tragedy Strikes


Our nation faced an unthinkable tragedy on the morning of December 14.  The school shooting in Newtown, CT, instantly became something that we could not wrap our brains around.  We try, but the answers that we seek do not come.  We struggle to comprehend it as adults and as parents, to choose the right words when speaking with our children, and to figure out how we can protect those around us who are more precious than anything on earth.

On the one hand, it seems an impossible task to try to write anything that can even remotely address people’s needs in response to the horrific  news that has been plastered on our television and computer screens, our mobile devices, and the black and white print around us.  On the other hand, it feels inappropriate to write about anything else at this time. (I began writing this less than 24 hours after the event.)
In the aftermath of a tragedy that is beyond our comprehension, people’s initial shocked reactions include the questions: "How could this happen?"  "Why?"  "Who would do something like this?" Even those in the news media, visibly shaken by the event as they reported on it, asked those questions.

With time, we can come up with intellectual answers to these questions that focus on the identification of the perpetrator, realization of the individual’s background and history, and a piecing together of the events that led up to the incomprehensible.  And with time, an increasing amount of the factual details will come together to tell a (perhaps fateful, and definitely tragic) tale. 

The emotional dealings with the aftermath are a much different matter. 
Posted 12/17/2012  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   7,551 views
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How to Ace the Parent-Teacher Conference


It was November 2010, my son's first grade parent-teacher conference.  I entered the room with my realist hat on and sat down in the tiny chair at the table with the teacher and my husband.  I was ready to hear positive feedback about my son's academic performance and likely some less than positive feedback about his silliness in the classroom (that was his pre-Kindergarten teacher's word for his very excitable-but-hard-to-bring-back-down personality).  I was prompt, aware, and ready to go.

What I was not prepared for was the teacher's opening line: "He is the impetus for all of the problems around him." 

She did not appreciate his silliness nor his desire to help (albeit, untimely) those around him during work time.  Ten seconds.  Eleven words.  Ten gallons of tears. 

Luckily, I have become a more seasoned parent-teacher participant.  Armed with more conference experience, anecdotal accounts from teachers, parents, and teacher educators, and published research on parent-teacher conferences, I can now offer some fresh perspective on the parent-teacher conference.  
Posted 11/28/2012  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14 comments   10,427 views
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Backpack Safety 101


Do you know how much your child's backpack weighs?
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's weight. So, if your kindergartener weighs 50 pounds, his backpack should be no more than 10 pounds when it's full.
 
Posted 10/3/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   7,023 views
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Schools Putting Healthier Lunch Options into Action


As you know, earlier this year First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. Since more students eat school lunch compared to school breakfast, schools first started to implement the new standards with school lunches.
 
Perhaps your family has incorporated tips that help you pack a nutrient-rich lunch for your children to take to school. Hopefully you have found a month worth of fun and healthy lunch ideas your children enjoy to help take the hassle out of packing school lunches. However, if you have a teenager like mine who doesn't want anything to do with packed lunches anymore, selecting a school lunch may be part of his or her daily routine.
 
It seems many school districts did major overhauls of their school lunch menu offerings over the summer to improve the nutritional quality offered to students this school year. I know there are many new changes in our son's school. Here is a sample of the types of new school lunch offerings popping up in school districts around the country.
Posted 9/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 15 comments   5,570 views
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Organize Your Kitchen to Fall into Healthy Habits


It's the most wonderful time of the year... 

I've been softly singing that tune for the past two weeks in anticipation of my three teenage sons and me going back to school.  Yes, I love my boys and have loads of fun home with them in the summer, but it's time.  I look forward to the weeknights that everyone is home by 9 p.m. (no more late baseball games!) and fast asleep before 11--mom, too.  My days will soon be filled with bright-eyed budding chefs to be learning how to hold a knife properly, fillet a fish, and shop for the best quality foods. 
 
With school just around the corner, my family, much like yours, needs to get its act together.  Early fall is a perfect time of year to get organized for school and home.   Even if you are not sending anyone off to school this list will help you gain control of your home before the holidays are upon us and it really gets crazy.
Posted 9/17/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 15 comments   13,244 views
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Is Your Teen Starting School in a Sleep Haze?


If your teens are like mine, they love to stay up late, are difficult to get up in the morning, and would sleep until noon if you let them. That is what teens do, especially when they are growing. Teens often make difficult choices and trade-offs when trying to allocate time among school, work, extra-curricular activities, friends and family. Many times those choices are at the expense of sleep.
 
Studies suggest teens need at least nine hours of sleep each night; however, many are only getting around seven hours a night on average. When sleep is limited on school nights, students can go to school too sleepy to learn. Having trouble staying awake increases the chances of missing important information being taught while also risking the loss of a teacher's respect.
 
A recent study published online in the journal Child Development reports that teens who stay up late to cram for tests tend to do poorly on the test they studied for because of sleep-related academic problems. Researchers also found that the problem compounds over time as academic rigor increases. Now that teens are back to school, will late-night studying to stay on top of their tough academic schedule sabotage their success? Here are some keys to help your student make the most of their study time and their sleep.
Posted 9/17/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 13 comments   8,147 views
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Just for Parents: A Refresher Course on Surviving the School Year


A new school year is under way.  Like many of you, I have been consumed by it for the past few weeks.  School supplies, new sneakers, "back-to-school" night, homework, after-school activities, new teachers, and uniforms have all played some part in the return of school.  These topics have been discussed regularly with friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else I have seen in passing (my dentist, employees at my gym, the girl who prepares my morning chai…).  The great balancing act has begun!

For me, the opening of the school year is usually a seamless transition from summer.  But, for some reason, this year is different.  Third grade feels unlike any other.  There is an anxiety about it that I’ve not felt before (not even when I was in third grade!)  Last week, back-to-school night was outright intimidating!  I watched the third grade teachers’ Power Point presentation and I felt overwhelmed.  I simply couldn’t absorb it all: the dreaded dioramas from my own childhood; an overnight trip of almost 60 kids and only four adults (yikes); something about building machines out of household materials; and the list went on for about 45 minutes.

To be perfectly honest, I think I am writing about this topic because I need a refresher course on the ins and outs of surviving parenthood during the school year.   And, to be even more honest, it wouldn’t hurt to commiserate, find hope, or laugh along with many of you out there whose kids also just started a new school year.  Here, I will remind myself (and you, perhaps) of some important topics:
Posted 9/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   7,870 views
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Easy School (and Work) Lunch Ideas


What kid or adult for that matter doesn't want to be the envy of the cafeteria, thanks to their delicious packed lunch?  In my family, when the kids hop into the car after school the first question or comment of the day usually pertains to the mid-day meal.
Most days I hear: "It was great, everyone wanted to trade with me!"  Of course, I also hear that lunch wasn't so good some days, too.
 
What does make a great lunch?  Is it something new, colorful, warm, hot, or one that comes in a packaged compartment tray?  As a Chef and mother of three boys the answer is yes to all of the above.  The chef in me thinks back to simple culinary training and passion for the seasons.  Warm soups, stews, or savory dishes are perfect for lunch on cool days whereas cold salads or sandwiches with fruit hit the spot of the hot days.  Just mix it up!  Check out these fun and easy ideas for you and your family to pack or even eat in for lunch meals.
Posted 9/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 27 comments   185,086 views
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CONTEST CLOSED Win a Copy of Our Healthy Lunches E-book


CONTEST CLOSED

SparkPeople want to help you get your kids off to a healthy start this school year. That's why we are giving away 10 copies of our latest e-book: A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches from SparkPeople, written by our very own Samantha Donohue, dailySpark blogger and healthy lunch packer extraordinaire.

Since Samantha's three children were born, she has prepared more than 8,000 healthy lunches, which means that she has also cut more than 64,000 crusts off her kids' sandwiches. She has tons of great tips and tricks for packing creative, nutritious meals that kids will like--and that won't take very much time! We also asked Dietitian Becky, who has a son in high school and a daughter in college, and Chef Meg, who has three teenage boy--including twins, for their best ideas! 

We think it's just what you need to get kids excited about packing lunch--with ideas and recipes for meals they'll actually eat.

Enter the contest today! 
Posted 8/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 5 comments   13,194 views
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Is the Jamba Juice New School Smoothie a Healthy Choice?


Last year the new school lunch guidelines were unveiled including new guidelines for the kind of milk to serve. Since that time, school districts across the country have been putting plans in place for implementation at the start of this school year. We have seen popular restaurants like Domino's get creative to provide cost effective quick serve options that meet the revised USDA guidelines as they seek to expand their business through school lunches.
 
Last month, at the School Nutrition Association Conference in Denver, a variety of other companies presented their products in hopes that school districts would include them in their new plans. Jamba Juice was one of those companies and unveiled a new smoothie they developed with the National Dairy Council. The naturally sweetened smoothie contains fruit, fruit juice, and fat-free milk with the goal of providing schools with a nutritious milk option at a reasonable cost-per-serving. Here is how this new smoothie stacks up.
Posted 8/27/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 27 comments   14,526 views
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A Month of Fun, Healthy School Lunches


Want to get kids off to a healthy start this school year? So does SparkPeople! That's why our very own Samantha Donohue, dailySpark blogger and healthy lunch packer extraordinaire, wrote our latest e-book: A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches from SparkPeople.

We think it's just what you need to get kids excited about packing lunch--with tips and recipes for meals they'll actually eat.

With A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches, you'll end the food fight and get kids excited about packing lunch--with fun yet simple meals they'll actually eat. Written by a mother of three, with 50 easy and healthy recipes plus plenty of ideas tested by real parents in real life, this e-book turns lunchtime into fun time while reinforcing the importance of eating right!

The book includes:
  • Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches Kids Will Actually Eat
  • Mom-Tested Tips for Saving Money and Time
  • Fun, Easy Ways to Turn Lunch into Something Special
  • The Basics of Planning a Healthy Lunch
  • Dozens of Meal Ideas: DIY Lunches, Finger Foods, Sandwich Makeovers and More
  • Also: Tips for Teens, Tweens, and Kids Who Insist on Buying Lunch
  • Bonus: 25 Healthy, Kid-Friendly After-School Snack Ideas!

The book is available now on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for just $2.99.

No e-reader? No problem!  If you don't have an e-reader, such as a Kindle or NOOK, you can still read these e-books. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer free downloads of their e-reader apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices. 


Click here for more info about our other great e-books, which are a fun way to learn more about healthy cooking.
Posted 8/13/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 2 comments   15,386 views
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Kindergarten 'Redshirting': A Leg Up or an Unfair Advantage?


August is flying by. All too soon a new school year will begin, and with it will come the same mixed feelings and buzz of energy that surrounded the end of the school year. Besides the traditional anxieties of getting to the bus stop on time and remembering to pack a healthy lunch, for many parents of kindergarten-age students, there is another anxiety, this one with much higher stakes than being tardy on the first day of school: When should you enroll your child in kindergarten?   

When we were kids, most US children started school at 5 years old.  It's a much bigger decision now, with controversy and even politics on both sides of the issue.
I followed the old rule and kept it simple.  I enrolled my son in kindergarten for one reason: He was 5 years old, and being five meant going to kindergarten.  He started school two days after his late August birthday in 2009. To me, it was a no-brainer. From the start, there were good signs: In the first week of kindergarten he met his (still) best friend, and their birthdays are less than a week apart!  They were instant buddies. 

But the naïve bubble in which I was living soon burst. 

Their birthdays are within a week of each other, in two different years.  His newfound chum was an entire year older than him and there were kids in his class who were nearly 18 months older than him (At age five, that's almost a third of your life older!)  Evidently, it was not as simple as I thought.

How much did you (or do you) think about when to start your son or daughter in kindergarten?  Is your child one of the youngest or the oldest in the class?  Have you heard the term redshirting?
Posted 8/9/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 122 comments   39,393 views
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Celebrating Four Decades of Title IX


June 23, 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of national legislation known as Title IX that sought to create equal rights for boys and girls. Because of this legislation, countless women including myself have taken advantage of the ability to participate in a myriad of athletic opportunities that extend to all levels of competition and have reached far beyond the United States.
 
The proof of Title IX's impact lies far beyond any statistics regarding the number of girls that have participated in organizes athletics. Several weeks ago, the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championships took place at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio. You may have heard about the teen runner that helped carry her competitor as she struggled to finish the long race. As a four-time competitor in that state meet (as a high jumper), I loved reading about the great example of sportsmanship at such a high level of competition. Watching it was even better!
Posted 7/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 11 comments   6,109 views
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Thinking Outside the Lunch Box


To ensure that your child has ample fuel to power through those long classes, make sure they are eating a wide variety of foods from the major food groups. Use the USDA MyPlate as a guide to make sure you’re covering all the bases. Here are some tips on making lunchtime nutritious:
Posted 6/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 10 comments   22,806 views
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